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Harper's bazaar: A weekend full of homers

Two-run blast the difference-maker in series sweep
@paul_casellaMLB
May 19, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- After clobbering a home run over the batter's eye and onto Ashburn Alley in Saturday's win, Bryce Harper stood at his locker postgame and said, “It's not how far, it's how many.” Harper backed up that mantra on Sunday, drilling another no-doubter home run to straightaway center field

PHILADELPHIA -- After clobbering a home run over the batter's eye and onto Ashburn Alley in Saturday's win, Bryce Harper stood at his locker postgame and said, “It's not how far, it's how many.”

Harper backed up that mantra on Sunday, drilling another no-doubter home run to straightaway center field in a 7-5 Phillies win to complete a three-game sweep against the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park.

Box score

This one landed in the Phillies’ bullpen, traveling a projected 404 feet, according to Statcast. It wasn't the 466-foot moonshot from Saturday, but it was arguably bigger in terms of its impact.

With one on and one out, and the game tied at 5 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Harper jumped all over a 3-1 slider from Rockies' reliever Mike Dunn.

"He has the ability to transcend the game," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "When he’s on, he’s just so captivating and so charismatic. The work that he does to get back to where he got today is notable. It doesn’t happen by accident. He puts a lot of work into it."

The go-ahead two-run homer came just three batters after J.T. Realmuto knotted the game with a pinch-hit, two-run shot of his own. Kapler had originally planned to give Realmuto the day off, with the Phillies playing their seventh game of a stretch in which they play 17 straight days.

"J.T. fought me pretty hard about giving him a day off today," Kapler said. "He did not like it. He wanted to play today. I just think it’s kind of ironic that he came up with that big two-run homer for us. I joked with him after the game that I’m glad I listened to him."

As for Harper, six of his nine home runs this season have come in the sixth inning or later, though each of the first five came with the Phillies already holding a lead. That includes a three-run shot off Dunn on April 20 in Colorado that helped the Phillies put the game away.

Harper's two home runs in as many days match his total from his previous 24 games combined. It's also the first time he's homered in back-to-back games since hitting one in three straight contests from March 30-April 2, the Phillies' second, third and fourth games of the season.

Sunday's home run had an exit velocity of 106.2 mph, according to Statcast. Harper has now had at least one batted ball with an exit velocity greater than 100 mph in five straight games.

"I just got to keep it going, that’s it," Harper said. "On any given day, it could be different -- you can be 0-for-4 or 4-for-4. Just got to keep that same mindset, keep getting better, keep progressing. I’ve been very fortunate the guys have had my back, and to have a city that’s had my back. Just trying to go out there and play my best baseball."

So is Harper finally getting close?

“It’s not a ‘close’ thing -- he’s there," Kapler said. "I think the home run that he hit to center field [Saturday] was the turning point and the moment where he started to feel more like Bryce.”

The Phillies are certainly hoping that's the case, especially with the club set to begin a 13-game stretch against National League powerhouses in the Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals and Dodgers, starting with a seven-game road trip through Chicago and Milwaukee this week.

"When he’s the best version of himself, it gives everybody in the lineup confidence," Kapler said. "That swagger certainly rubs off on his teammates, and quite frankly, it rubbed off on everybody in the ballpark today. He has the ability to inspire 45,000 people, and he did that today."

Paul Casella is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casellaMLB.